Coca-Cola is to close its historic Malvern Water bottling plant, with the loss of 17 jobs.

The soft drinks giant said the site was too small to be economically viable and meant the brand could not compete on price with rival bottled waters. Malvern accounts for just 1% of the UK bottled water market.

“This has been a very tough decision for us to take, particularly given the hard work and commitment shown by our staff at Malvern,” said a spokesman for Coca-Cola.

“We cannot produce enough Malvern Water on the scale it needs to compete in today's bottled water sector. Modern bottled water plants are around 10 times the size and can often produce more water in a day than we do in a month.

“That's why Malvern Water costs more to produce and why a big two litre bottle of mineral water in the supermarket sells for as little as 68p.”

Union officials criticised the timing of the move, which was announced on the day of the government’s comprehensive spending review.

“These workers and their families have been disgracefully treated by Coca-Cola Enterprises. The company obviously made its mind up long ago about their futures yet sat on their decision until a good day to bury bad news came along.”

"This is a sad and shameful way to end a proud 100-year tradition in Malvern but will serve to remind British consumers that multinationals rarely care for the regional products we're proud of and rarely have local communities' interests at heart.”

Read more
Coca Cola charity tie-up brings sport to the streets (14 October 2010)
Are you ready for a future without water? (analysis; 25 September 2010)